Saturday, September 27, 2014


After papa's passing away, there was huge vacuum in life. Just returned from USA, left job of Zensar. So life was middle of no where. I did some work for Manoj but it was not major. He planned his trip to Dharan, Nepal. I hesitantly said yes. In my mind I was betraying family going alone while whole family was struggling to come out of Papa's untimely death.

Finally I did mange to go amid big tension in mind about timing of going. Since I want to get out of trouble in last few months, at the same time travelling to east side of country was beckoning.
It was question of few days (10-16 September) so finally boarded train to Jal Pai Gudi with manoj.

Train journey was long and tiring and took 2 days to reach JalPaiGudi. On the way able to see Ganga
river and felt very good to see such a broad river.

After njp to panitanki we went by taxi through scenic siligudi.
Morning we crossed panitanki by walking and entered small town called kakarvitta.
Then from Kakarvitta we went to Dharan by bus.

Next day we spend time in Dharan working with Koirala institute.

On 14th we moved to Darkiling. On 15th went to see Kangchenjunga. Funny part was we couldn't use our own vehicle because in Gorkhaland it is compulsary to use their vehicle only to preserve local interest!

2. njp to panitanki (wb-ind-nepal border) 12 sept
3. kakarvitta-dharan (nepal border to dharan) 12 sept
4. dharan-kiorala institute 13 sept
5. dharan-kakarbhitta 13 sept
6. darjiling 14 sept
7. darjiling-mimik-njp 14 sept
8. train njp nasik 15-16 sept


Going to Kashmir was long time dream, after seeing countless movies and reading about it . Termed as Heaven on Earth was must do list. Once I got job at patni, I quickly planned trip with everybody  from family since was aware that I won't be in India soonSo we booked flight to Srinagar. First flight was to Delhi via Nagpur and second flight was to Srinagar.

We booked our complete journey from Srinagar air port to rest of Kaskmir with Discovery Travel.
First stop was to House Boat where we planned to stay for 3 days, then go to 2 days in Pahelgam, Gulmurg stay 2 day, and then 2 day in Jammu.

First stop at House Boat - Dal lak. It was said that British used to stay here during summer. We were
happy because of freshly cooked food and nice place to stay. Although I felt that water was little dirty in dal lake. Must be because of so many boats parked in small lake.

Next day we went to Sonmarg to play on snow. On the way we saw beautiful valley because of Sindh River. Road to Sonmarg was same road which leads to Ladak. Adwait and Asmi enjoyed snow but at the same time they felt very cold.

Next day in Srinagar visited old city, lal market, Hajarat Bal Shrine and Mogul garden.

Next section of trip was to Pahlgam. Where we trekked to Pahlgam Valley and later went to Betab valley. This valley become popular because of hindi movie Betab.
On the way back to Srinagar, visited Martand - Sun temple. Although in ruins, I felt very happy to see it. At Avantipur, we saw apple farms.

Gulmarg visit was coldest and hotel was also not good. Especially it was very smelly. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak.

Last leg of trip was to Jammu- for Vaishnav Devi. By this time we were tired but wanted to finish walking 28 km journey to top.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

louvre museum

When I read and watched movie on Da Vince Code, I desperately wanted to go to Louvre Museum. Portrait of Mona Lisa which has amazed so many scholars and you keep hearing about in school books, papers and magazine. So Lourve was the important stop for me in my Paris Visit.
Once I finished with Eiffle Tower, I rushed to Museum. There is station by museum itself.

The Louvre is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, and received more than 9.7 million visitors in 2012.

After seeing beautiful glass Pyramid  but at the same time queue for ticket was huge. So after spending almost hour,  I entered inside museum,

First I rushed to Italian Paintings, just to see Mona Lisa. There are two wings in Museaum - Richelieu and Denon. Denon wings have  Italian paintings Raphael, Michel angelo and Da Vinci paintings. Apart from Mona Lisa, I liked Grande Odalisque ,The Coronation of Napoleon

Later moved to Sculpture section. There were many sculptures from all over the world. I liked 4 big statues in front of room.

Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC

Brussels - Amsterdam - Luxembourg

Main land Europe, major activity center for last 1000 years. I did manage to go to Paris in last trip but want to cover few more countries and cities. With my london stay + still having valid visa. Decided to plan few more countries which can easily accessible by train -- so planned 3 countries in 4 days.

Belgium - Brussels
Netherland - Amstradam
Luxumberg - Luxumberg city

There is direct train to Brussels from London, So first stop was Brussel, since last time I choose very cheap this time I decided to have some better hotel. Hotel was indeed good one. But sad part was I was going to be there for very short time.
Once I reached home, I decided to cover as much Brussel as much possible since next day I wanted to go to Amsterdam.

So went to main capital square of Brussel, then world famous manneken pis. I didn't like much since size was small. But I did like waffles. Also it is said that best chocalates are from Brussels, so purchased few to take home. I also visited European Parliament, mini Europe. Although it was closed can see all miniature sized important monument. Near by there is Atomium - it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (59 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times.

In front of EU parliament

Next day visited Amsterdam, using one of the fast trains of Europe -  Thales. As imagined Amsterdam was full of cycles, orange colors and many channels. I walked to nearest windmill. Also visited Van Gogh Museum. There were many of his best pictures. But I liked one empty frame - called perspective frame. How true! Art is nothing but getting best out of surrounding through one particular perspective! I decided to take snaps of my camera based on that perspective.

Third day went to Luxembourg, it was 3 hours journey but can feel cold winter weather and hardly populated area. Got fair idea about how will be the rest of Europe.
Luxembourg is small country but located uniquely on hill area. It is sandwiched between France and Germany. I really admire how this country is still survive. I walked all the old fort area and then saw Luxembourg museum. In Luxembourg, I learned Schengen Visa is based on  Schengen Village where first agreement created for borderless Schengen Area (1995) . The treaty was signed on 14 June 1985 between five of the then ten member states of the European Economic Community near the town of Schengen in Luxembourg.


Saturday, September 20, 2014


I wanted to go Paris for long time back. You go to travel section of any book store and you will find numinous books on France and especially Paris. So in my short stay in London, I planned to trip to Paris.
It is pain to arrange any visa, particularly Schengen visa because of it's requirement. I quickly arranged  documents and visited french embassy. It took 2 days but I got my visa. I took 2 days off and planned  trip from 18th October - 21th October.
This was my first trip using EUROSTAR rail and going from euro tunnel was emotional part. I clearly remember fit of french and English engineer from TV news in 1986.

I reached to Gare Du Norde railway station from Saint Pancras on 18th evening. I was staying at Voltair. While going by Metro, you come to know stations like Nation, Republic. You right go back into old memories of history book where you learned about french revolution and first formation of republic,

It took sometime to find my hotel but after some running around. Finally able to reach there.

Next day first went to see Notre Dame to see architecture of church. I quickly reached there and felt happy, I didn't get lost. Loved to see broad Seine river.

Next on list was Effiel Tower, I booked ticket to going to top online and wanted to reach before my booking timing.

I reached closest station but to my dismay it was dark and cloudy and tower was not at all visible. Felt bad and cursed own bad luck.
But being that placed made me very happy, journey to top was planned and I liked the metal structure, lifts and also staircase. I did walk few floors to get hang of it.

Next and most important part of journey was Louvre Museum. Then walked to Tomb of Neapolin. This museum was in my mind from after reading book 'Da Vince Code' and I am glad I made it.

Next day visited palace Tuileries-Charles de Gaulle
, Circular IMax theater Grobe . Famouse church at  Saine Caire - It was quite walking on top of hill but view was good. Later to Pigalle At Pigalle, I saw board of famous cabrate dancing theater Moulin Rouge.

On 21st I have to return so trip was short to  La Fayette which famous fashion shopping -
Near by there was Opera theater and it has beautiful architecture.
Then visited garden  invalides mudee d'Orsay petite.
Also went to see Unisco building, Luxembourg, Hotel de Ville

Monday, September 15, 2014

London Muesuems

In August 2013, another opportunity came for Reading and I grabbed it with both hands since premature exit from previous trip and at least for seeing few london sites. Most important to me was
Tate Modern Museum. Since it host some of most expensive painting by Pablo Picasso  and museum was completely free.
Finding museum was not difficult but going through each gallery was tiring. I was interested in Pablo Picasso and finally found his section.
In his section, I liked  Nude, Green leaves and Bust but didn't like Nude Woman with Necklace. I also liked weeping woman.

Few of great art work was from
Christian Schad -- Dada and the New Objectivity movement
Jo baer -- associated with minimalist art
Josepf albers.


At national gallary, I liked Sunflower by Van Gogh. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Visiting oxford was like entering to temple. History of thousand years and elite people taking education. You always feel you missed good education. Reading is half way between London and Oxford, so once I was settled in Reading,  I plan trip to Oxford. Train going through rural England is sight to watch. Huge farms, sparsely located houses. Within in half an hour you are at oxford.

I felt it is like any normal UK town but it has great university atmosphere. 


I transited twice through London when I was in America. I didn't get chance to see London even from Bird's eye view but 2011 trip to USA gave me chance to see London from top and had some fulfillment since can easily watch Themes river, London bridge and London Eye.

First trip to London was remembered because of endless walking on the banks of Themes. In my first trip, I started walking from Westminster Abey to London Bridge which covered iconic London eye. But walking always give fulfilling experience since on the way you can see many things.

In next few weeks, I covered many palace and museum. I liked Buckingham palace parade but didn't like building itself. Kingston palace was okay but garden in front of it was marvelous.
During my short stay, I also had to visit French embassy for European visa and it was close to Kingston garden, so liked it very much.

Also visited Greenwich area and apart from historical astronomical observatory. It has maritime museum. But most I liked was painted hall at Old Royal Naval College.
To go to Greenwich, you have to pass modern London. i.e. Canary Wharf. You come across many modern buildings at this place. Also station is on modern train line - DLR line (Docklands Light Railway - metro)

Visiting Winsor Castle was like almost visiting lost glory of British empire. There was a huge queueto entry and people were from all over the world. Palace itself is magnificent. No wonder queen ruled from here.The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I, it has been used by succeeding monarchs (39)  and is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.The castle's lavish,  gothic in architecture. State Apartments today reflects the changing tastes of the Castle’s royal occupants,  particularly Charles II (r.1660-85) and George IV (r.1820-30). The State Apartments, particularly St George’s Hall and the Grand Reception Room  are beautiful.

You have to visit, Lloyds Cricket Ground if you are Indian and love cricket. One fine weekend, I went to see Lloyds and it is historical place. I liked their guided tour to pavilion which include showing ashes urn, Long room, Dressing room, Honours board and JP Morgan Media center.


This small town was on my list from my last visit to Edinburgh. When I was searching for firth of forth bridge, I came across post which details engineering marvel of  Filkirk Wheel. It is a boat lift, I have seen locks to lift the boat to next level but boat lift to take next level was new to me. I never heard about it and seen any thing like it.So this trip I was determined to at least see it.
Also while visiting Highlands, I noticed 2 horse sculptures and amazed to see such fantastic architecture and luckily it was in the same town,
Most of my trip I will start early and then head to destination and will spend time. But today I decided to go late considering it is just half hour journey. I checked place and how to get there and bus and train was option. I thought let's try bus but I didn't get bus for at least hour so later decided to go by train.
Train trip to Filkirk high had 2 stops, Linlithgow,Polmont. After reaching Filkirk, it was very isolated station. I was aware of No 3 bus will take me to Filkirk wheel but asked train helper for confirmation.
She told me there are two options either walk canal for 2 km or go by bus.

Walk on union canal and just 2 km was not at issue for me. So I took decision to walk and it was right decision. Picturesque canal and beautiful landscape. Even I got some birds photography.

Wheel - Boat lift was small but elegant in structure. I was interested to see if there is any leakage of water but I couldn't notice single strain of water or oil. Boats were parked inside and at the same time if there is another boat above, it will also parked. So when wheel rotates, it will also switch position of boats. After spending time and having lunch decided to go to other monument - Kelpies.
Kelpies is largest works of art in Scotland by sculpture Andy Sott.

 As usual I checked distance to walk and it was 6 KM. After thinking for a while and it was just walking on the side of canal and no worry of being lost (I can get easily lost), I again decide to walk. This time walk was long it was through industrial area and many time it was less crowded but it was a good walk. After walking for hour and 1/2, and no sign of horses, I was started counting my steps because of tiredness but suddenly I saw horses.

Trek was worth after watching 30 m high horses. The Kelpies name reflected the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change of scotland landscapes, endurance of inland waterways. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Darling Harbor
 It was almost one year I moved to Australia and no special trip since no car and daily routine to work and home. It was same case with Namrata and so one big trip was deserving.
Namrata wanted to celebrate Adwait's birthday at Sydney Opera House. I felt it was absurd but she planned meticulously trip such a that we will be at Opera House on his birthday.
We reached Sydney in the evening and from Sydney reached our hotel - IBIS. After freshening and others went to bed, myself and Sachin went for a walk and we roamed around and ended up to Darling Harbour! I wish all our Adwait and Namrata were there. But I got some very good stunning pictures.

Next day we went to visit Bondy beach, Opera House. We didn't go inside but spent time circling around and later we celebrated Adwait's birthday! That was one of great evening of my life.

Opera House

Blue Mountain

Monday, September 8, 2014

north island

Being in Australia for 1 and 1/2 year and chances of project getting over in next couple of months made me thought about wrapping up places around Australia. We  already traveled to Sydney for Adwait's birthday. So New Zealand was on our book mark for long time. I spoke with my boss regarding 1 week vacation considering covering of complete north and south island and also that will give us complete get away.

First few days went into planning especially getting New Zealand visa. But everything went smooth as far as visa is concern but collecting paper work  was challenge since it involved contacting company.

We booked red eye flight from Melbourne so that we don't have to go and look for staying anywhere in Auckland. So flight was at 12:30 night and we reached Auckland around morning. From there we went to our camper van company called Jucy condo. We planned to book in name of Namrata since my license was about to expire.

We took the van and straight we went to Indian groceries since next 10 days we were going to cook in our camper van. We did miss few road signs because of new place and new country. But eventually we did manage to reach Indian grocery store. Once we packed with grocery, we straight away went to Mount Eden. Since we don't want to spend time in Auckland and want to get out of it as soon as possible just seeing city skyline.
 Mount Eden is dormant volcano. We climbed the mount and got very good view of auckland including sky tower. Later we drove through strongly industrialized area of Auckland to Rotorua. Journey was 3 hours and distance was approximately 233 km.

We stayed at Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park. On the way we saw many hot spring. The place we stayed also had few hot springs. But next day we went to Hell's gate where it has geothermal walk. Watching first time geothermal phenomena and you wonder how such places exist on earth.
I also like smell of sulphar which reminded me of 12th Chemistry class.

Next day we travelled further south towards or next stop of Taihape.

On the way we went to Hukka fall. Compare to falls in India I felt it was ok.

On the way we saw Lake Taupo and beautiful volcanic mountains Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, Mount Ruapehu. All 3 mountains were so attracting but we couldn't get time to go closer or climb.

In between we didn't feel  there was much and we decided to 
drove to Wellington. Capital of New Zealand. We booked our camper van in motorway. It is specific purpose is to have car parked so that they can easily loaded to ship which then can go to south island.

Once we parked our car, we went for cable car -  Lambton Quay, the main shopping street, and Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the central city, rising 120.  We roamed aournd took many pictures around there. After coming back myself and Sachin went for grocery and also saw parliament on the way. I was happy to see Mahtma Gandhi statue there.
On way we can clearly see large ships and  wellington harbor. We were very excited about travelling to south island next day.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

south island

 Lord of the rings .. stunning cinematography
caused me to do make a trip to New Zealand particularly to South Island. Stunning natural beauty shown in the movie as well as picturesque fiord ( long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by glacial erosion. ) In particularly Milford sound pictures where stunning huge rocks submerged in water. No wonder famous poet Rudyard Kipling considered it as a eighth wonder
We left wellington and boarded a ship along with our camper van using inter-islander cruise. Loading van to ship itself was a great experience. Huge chains, ropes make you wonder how much progress these people have done. Once we parked our car we went upstairs to get great view, journey was short and we reached other side in 3 hours. Day was cloudy but watching surrounding mountains, rain was fun.
After moving to Piston we started southward journey towards Grey Mouth on highway 6. Most of our route was highway 6 since that was the only route that goes through to south of island. On the way, I wanted to see Nelson lake but it was little south side and considering average distance of daily 350 km, it didn't look feasible.  We stayed at South Beach Motel: 318 Main South Road. There was swimming pool so adwait, sachin and myself had some fun.

Next day we have to go to Haast which was 300km away and in between we want to see Fox Glacier. It is located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The glacier was later named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria by the German explorer, Julius von Haast in 1865. it exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the névé (fresh snow compacting to ice at glacier). It was my first journey to Glacier so was very excited to go there. We have walked around Waiho river to reach Glacier. It was around 2 km walk but I got disappointed to see small size of glacier from below. May be it must be much bigger at top. We can see many helicaptor rides going towards glacier so that assumption must be true.  After visiting glacier, we moved nearest town called Haast.
Night at Haast was most beautiful considering nice clear mountain weather and at night I can see clearly milky way galaxy.I also woke up Adwait to see that galaxy. But taking picture didn't work considering cold and our limited knowledge of digital photography.

 Next day we planned to pass through Haast pass, one of three pass which are mountain pass in south Alphs. Considering dangerous ghats in India, comparatively this was easy.But obviously passing through greenery had great effect on mind. Route passes through Mount Aspiring National Park. So we covered two national park during our south island visit.
Haast pass name after a 19th-century explorer Haast  who was also geologist.

We stayed at Te Anau. our last south side stop. By this time we cover 1100km distance from Auckland! On they way we visited small lakes Wanaka, Wakatipu and big town Queenstown. We did our grocery and aheaded toward small town of Te Anau.

Our next and final destination was Milfold sound. The reason for our whole trip was Milford sound.
But to our dismay, road was closed to Milford because of heavy snow :(. I felt really bad considering that was pinnacle of trip to newzealand but heavy rain through out our journey made me worried. Anyway we have to plan some alternate arrangement so for one night we planned cruise to doubtful sound - large natural fiord and other around Te Anau.

In Te Anau stay,  we planned trip to Glowworm caves. Glowworm caves was very different experience. First we travelled to mountains using cruise to western shores of Lake Te Anau and later through guided boat. First there is guide about 12000 old caves made by river and through limestone passages causing sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall.  By boat we went to darker section of caves to ghetto of Glowworm. They produce glitter display which can only match to dark night clear sky.

Trip to Doubtful sound was coach trip , Manapori lake, coach and then cruise to Doubtful Sound.  


Returning back we stayed near Queenstown/Franton since we had next day early morning flight back to Melbourne. We cover 300 km around in 3 hours. On 9th morning we return our car and headed back to Australia with happy mindset.